Unemployment in the UK is running at its
highest rate for over six years, even though the total number employed
in the country has struck a new record, official figures showed today.
The office for National Statistics said that the broad
International Labour Organisation measure of unemployment in the three
months to June rose by 92,000 from the previous three months, to 1.677
The figure is the highest since the 1.682 million recorded in
February 2000. The quarterly increase was higher than expectations for
a 78,000 rise.
As a result, the jobless rate rose 0.3 percentage points from the
previous three months to 5.5 per cent, its highest level since June
2000, when it was also 5.5 per cent.
Over the past year, the rate has gone up 0.7 percentage points.
The statistics office said the number of Britons claiming
jobseeker’s allowance rose to a four-and-a-half year high during
July and is slowly nearing the politically-sensitive 1 million mark
for the first time since January 2001.
Total employment levels rose by 42,000 over the quarter and by
240,000 from the same period a year ago, taking the overall figure to
28.94 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971.
However the claimant count in July rose by 2,000 from June to
957,000 its highest level since January 2002, when it stood at
The rise was the the sixth in a row and means the claimant count
has now risen for 16 of the last 17 months. The increase was slightly
lower than the 5,000 predicted by analysts.
In June, the claimant count rose by 4,300, downwardly revised from
the original estimate of 5,600.
Over the past 12 months, the claimant count has risen by 90,900.
The claimant count rate for July was 3 per cent of the workforce for
the fifth month in a row.
The rate was last higher in September 2002, when it stood at 3.1
Elsewhere, the survey found wage pressures creeping up slightly
The statistics office revealed that headline average earnings,
including bonuses, rose by a 4.3 per cent annual pace in the three
months to June, up from 4.1 per cent in the three months to May.
The spike up in headline earnings took the rate to its highest
level since the 4.4 per cent pace recorded in April 2005.
In its Inflation Report last week, the Bank of England
indicated that there were very few signs that past increases in energy
prices have fuelled pay pressures across the economy.
The Monetary Policy Committee has said it would get particularly
concerned if average earnings rise by 4.5 per cent or more.